7 minute readUnibake News, Career
Natalia Yasneva: "Today I have the smell of bread when I go to work and it brings back my childhood memories."
5 minute read
As a child I wanted to be a veterinarian for many years. I guess you can say that I had a very romanticized picture of working with animals. I think the reasons that a lot of people dream of becoming a veterinarian are obvious: who is not charmed by puppies and kittens. I thought that it would be so wonderful to spend your days surrounded by wagging tails and nuzzling whiskers. But when I realized that you have to put animals down or do surgery on them, I changed my mind.
For many years I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. I took a mathematical degree in high school but have always been fond of language. I started law school but quickly dropped out because it just didn’t feel right. By accident I took a bachelor’s degree in biomedical laboratory science and right after that I got employed by a company who produces equipment for the fertility industry. That’s where I first worked professionally with quality assurance. I found out that I really liked it and later joined Lantmännen Unibake after some years in different industries such as pharma and medical devices. I also took some extra education as a Quality Coordinator in the ISO standards as Lead Auditor combined with strategic management and innovation.
I have what you could describe as a somewhat odd profile for being in the food industry. But after working in the food industry for some years now I can’t imagine working with anything else – it is exciting, challenging and nerdy. No matter what I have done in life and in my career, I have always strived for being the best. I have a massive drive and a strong will to succeed. I think that explains the good fit between me and Lantmännen Unibake. They looked more at my personal drive than at my profile when they hired me.
What I really enjoy about my job is that my knowledge matters. I have a coordinative position and often need to work with people from, for instance, production, sales and logistics. It is wonderful for an outgoing person like me to be able to work with so many different people. All stages in that collaboration process have some elements of quality assurance and food safety to them. The secret to being good at my job is to be open and honest.
It’s important to me that we don’t act as the quality police department, but that people want to work with us, not against us. Because if production becomes too afraid to approach us, they might hesitate if something goes wrong or needs to be looked at. I want to contribute to a company culture where people speak up when they have made a mistake, and I want to involve them in fixing the issue at hand, so we can all learn from it. That’s what we did last week. A human error resulted in some pallets being sent to a wrong address. Instead of yelling we quietly sat down, went through the process, and took steps to make sure that it hopefully doesn’t happen again.
Recently, it struck me how I’m able to keep a cool head under pressure. The other day something went wrong on the production line at a bakery. Instead of just scrapping everything, I quickly gathered a team around me and took a pragmatic approach. When did the problem happen? How did it happen? How much of the product needs to be thrown out? How much can be reused and so on? I didn’t know that about myself. But I have found out that I have a pretty low-key approach in emergency situations. That makes me capable of thinking about solutions instead of narrowing in on the problems.
I have only been Site Quality Manager since March 2021, so being a leader is still new to me. My first audit was just the other day, and I was very nervous, butterflies in the stomach and all that. But it went so well. Several times during the audit, I got this feeling of ok, I really got this. Audits are everyone’s exam every year – do we have the right systems and processes in place and so on? And everybody just nailed it. I was so proud. It was four days of hard work, but we all pulled through.
When I took the job as Site Quality Manager, I thought a lot about the shift from colleague to leader. From being the one you talk to to be the one you talk about. But I have made peace with it, and in my gut, I can feel that it was the right career move. I know I will succeed in the position as Site Quality Manager because the expression in all the roles I handle is marked with passion, a strong team-spirit and professionalism.
I like responsibility. Shifting from colleague to leader also has some great advantages. I know what kind of tasks him or her in my team likes, and when someone says something in a certain way, I can tell that there is something that person is not happy about. That’s a gift. As a person I am very trustworthy and engaging. I always support employees in taking responsibility and daring to see things from a new perspective and in a more creative way. In addition, I attach a great deal of importance to a good working environment. I go to great lengths to ensure a proper working environment for everyone.
Almost everybody I work with has been in the company for 10 years or more. That’s a lot of knowledge accumulated over the years. Almost no matter what situation we have at hand someone always says, oh, I remember we had a similar issue 8 years ago, here is what we did, and you should contact this and that person. I think that being in this company you quickly find out if you enjoy the culture. And if you do, you tend to stick around for a lot of years. I hope to stick around for many years because I know I will miss this great Lantmännen Unibake culture with togetherness and freedom mixed with a lot of great personalities.